Hard to tell amid Russell Wilson’s “Recovery Water” and Marshawn Lynch cutting a deal with the NFL to make himself “available” to the media, but there was actually some actual football news from the Seahawks’ practice today, two days before the third exhibition game at San Diego.
Coach Pete Carroll said Wilson and his starting offense plus the starting defense will play into the second half, standard fare for the final rehearsal before the real games begin Sept. 13 at St. Louis. The Seahawks play their preseason finale next Thursday, Sept. 3, at home against Oakland but starters will barely play in that if at all.
Asked about Kam Chancellor on the team leader’s 28th day of his holdout that has no end in sight, Carroll said again “everything’s as it’s been” -- and that the team is moving on with trying to determine whether DeShawn Shead or Dion Bailey will be the fill-in starter for Chancellor. Bailey has been starting the last two weeks in practice and in last week’s exhibition game at Kansas City. The coach referred to Bailey as “a special player.”
“At this point... the opener’s coming. We have to get our guys ready to play, ” Carroll said, an obvious inference the team isn’t waiting for Chancellor to show up before it starts the regular season.
The same starting offensive line that debuted last week against the Chiefs and have been the first team this week in practice will begin Saturday’s game against the Chargers: Russell Okung at left tackle, Justin Britt at left guard, Drew Nowak at center, J.R. Sweezy at right guard and Garry Gilliam at right tackle. Last week was the first start at those positions for Britt, Nowak and Gilliam, and while they pass blocked well at Kansas City they opened almost no holes to run against a Chiefs defense that stayed stacked up on the line.
As long as they don’t have extreme malfunctions in San Diego, it appears those five will start the regular season against the Rams in two-plus weeks.
“Probably my focus goes to the offensive line, see them go at it again and see how they do,” Carroll said of Saturday. “...The season is just around the corner.”
Earl Thomas won’t play in San Diego -- no reason for him to while still in a red, no-contact jersey while the first-team free safety for much of practices. Carroll said his All-Pro who had shoulder surgery Feb. 24 “is getting ready to be in shape to play for the opener. His timing is getting down, his calls. You can see him fitting in, the intensity that he brings is starting to show up. That’s important.”
Carroll said All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman will play in San Diego after missing the first two games, last week as a precaution with lingering effects from a hip-flexor strain. Sherman didn’t sound overly thrilled Wednesday with returning Saturday, called the preseason game nothing but a “glorified practice.”
Cornerback Tharold Simon will play what he said would be “a few snaps.” Those will be his first since he allowed two Super Bowls after Jeremy Lane broke his arm and shredded his knee in the first quarter of the Super Bowl on Feb. 1. Simon had surgery to repair torn labrum in his shoulder, an injury he said today he played with in the divisional playoff game against Carolina in January and Super Bowl 49.
“I’m 100 percent health-wise. I just need to knock that rust off,” Simon said. “I haven’t played football since February.”
He said he knew the Seahawks were going to sign a veteran cornerback this offseason to replace Byron Maxwell, who left in free agency to Philadelphia. Seattle signed Cary Williams from the Eagles to play right cornerback opposite Sherman.
Simon will backup Williams on Saturday in San Diego, but Simon doesn’t think the competition for that starting job is over yet.
“It’s a competition out there,” Simon said. “Cary’s been out there for a while. He knows what’s going on. He’s doing everything right. We love him out there. I mean, it’s still competition. ... Next man up.
“I knew ‘Max’ wasn’t going to stay here. I was like -- no matter what, whoever they bring in -- I was like, ‘The only way someone is probably going to start over me is if it’s (Darrelle) Revis.”
Even Simon chuckled at that.
“I mean, sooner or later, I’ll be ready to go,” he said.
Carroll said the 6-foot-3, 202-pound Simon is “competing to play, yeah. He hasn’t had much of a chance yet. But we know him as a dominant, physical guy out there. We really like him. ... If he can get ready to play football and do a good job the next couple weeks then that just makes us stronger and allows us some flexibility in some matchups that we might be able to take advantage of.”
▪ Carroll said WR Chris Matthews (shoulder sprain) and backup QB Tarvaris Jackson (high-ankle sprain) appear set to return to playing next week against Oakland and then be ready for the regular season.
▪ DT Jesse Williams got sick this week and missed a couple practices. But Carroll said the man who had his cancerous kidney removed at the University of Washington Medical Center in May will play his third consecutive preseason game at San Diego. Carroll reiterated Williams “has a chance to help us” as a big run-stuffer and blocker-occupier in the middle behind Ahtyba Rubin.
I sense Carroll has something of an exceptional place in his heart and/or mind rooting for Williams to somehow make this team after all his been through, the cancer following knee injuries that ruined the Australian’s first two NFL seasons with Seattle. He could go on the practice squad, too. We’ll see.
▪ Rookie S Ryan Murphy will play against the Chargers on defense and special teams. The Seahawks have seen next to nothing from their seventh-round draft choice from Oregon State. He missed the rookie minicamp in May and then organized team activities into June because he had to wait for his college class to graduate per NFL rules. Then he got hurt and missed most of this month.